In the eighties there was a strange custom at the University of Calgary. Every student advertisement had to display the word SEX in huge letters, no matter what the content was. Like “SEX is a great thing and I also have a great bike for sale.” Or “SEX will not be discussed now but I do very affordable math tutoring.” Well, it’s time to open another Pandora’s box as announced in the post Illegal Ideas and discuss some kinky forms of SEXual behavior. We're going to peek in a pretty gay topic. I recommend a great deal of composure, especially if you're affected. The title comes from a Dire Straits song.
The popular belief at the moment is that human homosexuality is at least partly inherited. Like the color of your eyes, it is caused by mysterious genes, and so of course, just as the color of your eyes, you cannot change your orientation.
Yet if we examine human sexual orientation, interesting questions arise. Why is it that the gene for homosexuality is so often found among Catholic priests? Would men with such a gene be more attracted to the priesthood, especially to Catholicism? Or might it have more to do with celibacy, or perhaps with what’s going on in seminaries?
There is a phenomenon called imprinting by ethologists. It means that a species becomes fixed in a particular behavior at a particular age. Ducklings, for example, will follow their mothers through thick and thin. After hatching, there is a period of a few hours when they choose who the target of their attraction is. If the imprinting period presents a hen instead of a duck, they will assume the hen to be their mother. If it's a plastic tractor or a big hairy dog, bingo, it’s mum. The only criterion is that it must be moving. From then on, she's their mother, they'll follow her everywhere.
There is also sexual imprinting, for example in birds and humans. In addition to childhood and adolescent environment, first physical experiences can be decisive. When doing therapy I’ve encountered quite interesting cases. The patient is adopted, has no memory before the age of six and is homosexual. Why is the prevalence of this phenomenon so much higher in foster homes than in the general population?
Meanwhile, it is clear that sexual attraction has inherited components. Among other things, young adulthood, 'beauty' (e.g. facial symmetry), a high level of energy, dominance are attractive, because one is more likely to successfully reproduce and raise offspring with a partner who has these qualities. (Some of the criteria are probably somewhat different for the two sexes.) However, we see that the coded traits in humans are not completely automatic, and can be overridden by individual experience and cultural context. Every individual, every society, every age has its own female and male idols.
Ancient Egyptians were attracted to women with a shaved head wearing a wig. In many places in Africa, chubby females are favored, slender ones being thought of as undeveloped. And what about all the strange arousals? For now let’s disregard which of these we consider aberrations. There is sado-masochism and pedophilia, not to mention lace panties and many other fetishes. If a person is only able to come with a loud opera playing during the act, is it because he has inherited an opera gene from his parents? Or it’s only homosexuality that deserves a special gene?
A gene that causes exclusive homosexuality should indeed be special, because the individual possessing it will have no offspring. The only way for such a gene to survive would be through kin selection. This occurs, for example, in social insects, such as bees or ants. Workers do not reproduce, but help their mother, the queen, who can then have many offspring. A homosexual man or woman would need to significantly increase the reproductive success of their close relatives in order for the gene to be passed on. If my math is right (rB > C)1, each non-reproducing homosexual individual would have to effectively help raise four or rather five nieces or nephews to keep the allele2 from being selected out of the population.
A bisexuality gene, however, is possible, as the carrying individuals can pass it on to their offspring. Take the case of bonobos, for example. This peaceful species of chimpanzee is obsessed with sex in any form, perfectly embodying the slogan ‘Make love, not war.’ Before concluding that this is the natural way among primates, let's take a look at our other relatives: Gorillas keep a harem, chimpanzees are promiscuous, gibbons are monogamous, while the gentle, mostly solitary orangutan is shockingly capable of rape.
We certainly didn't expect that. And bonobos, if we're going to label them, are not only bisexual, but also pedophiles; for them, sexual behavior is a form of peacemaking activity regardless of age or gender. In other animals, homosexuality often occurs simply because of the lack of other options. Caged quail cockerels are loaded with hormones and in the absence of hens will try to mount each other. The other reason is probably best illustrated by Konrad Lorenz's amorous jackdaw who kept trying to stick tasty worms into his owner's ears as a love gift. Few, I think, would venture the theory that the genome of jackdaws sports an allele for sex with humans. A more likely answer is an imprinting period when the environment determines the bird's subsequent sexual interest. Normally, this early environment will consist of jackdaws, but if the chick is raised by humans, it may later be attracted to humans instead of jackdaws. Likewise, if a same-sex individual somehow becomes prominent during a creature's imprinting window, it may become a target of attraction.
In some human communities, homosexuality is an accepted practice. The best known example is ancient Greece. In prisons and monasteries, just as with the quails mentioned, the behavior is obviously encouraged by the same-sex environment. The Zapotec Indians of Mexico have a so-called third sex called muxe. Muxes are men who often prefer to do female work, may dress as women and may have sexual relations with men, women or no one, depending on the individual. Muxes are not discriminated against and are respected members of their society.
The intent of not harming people for something they are not responsible for is also laudable in our society. It works for homosexuality, but what about pedophilia, for example? Everybody hates pedophiles with a passion. In prison they have to be separated from other inmates, otherwise they may be killed. Yet they can't help their attraction any more than anyone else! Sexual orientation is very rarely a conscious choice, and it is one of our strongest motivators. What’s the solution? There is always abstinence or masturbation. (But do imagine for a moment that this is made compulsory for you all your life.) Or changing sexual orientation, which is an absolute taboo subject today. Try to raise such a possibility for homosexuals and you will be immediately stoned to death by woke ideologues, compared to whom Spanish inquisitors were meek lambs.
According to current dogma, redirecting sexual orientation is impossible. Yet Milton Erickson did it. The task is certainly challenging, but that merely reflects the current capabilities of psychology and psychiatry. Frankly, in the case of pedophiles, I don't see many other alternatives beside perhaps the guillotine.
The interesting thing is that while woke views are being trumpeted, there is very intense sexual reorientation going on. The acceptance of homosexual people is no longer the issue. There is massive propaganda in the media to promote homosexuality and so-called genders with difficult names. In some places, such as Canada, it is being taken to the level of federal policy. Among children and adolescents this campaign is spectacularly effective. In the US, less than 2% of the silent generation (born before 45) identify as homo- or bisexual, while 20% of generation X (born around 2000) do. You could argue that, oh, there were always that many, but now they've come out of the closet. Theories can also be put forward about constantly recurring gene mutations. Or genes coding something else, the particular combinations of which also cause homosexuality as a side effect. These proposals, however, are more in the category of Little Red Riding Hood than serious scientific arguments.
Perhaps it is time to think about what we actually want in society. Is it good for us if more and more people start to gravitate towards their own sex? Our species is obsessed with smashing up the planet; from this point of view, homosexuality, which can reduce overpopulation, may be a natural, even welcome, reaction. (Of course, with the advent of surrogate wombs, this advantage disappears.) Whether we decide we want to manufacture more gay people or not, we should take an unbiased look at this emotive issue instead of offering mythical, dogmatic explanations as of its origins. I may be wrong about the causes, but I am sure that militant partisanship just obscures the topic instead of facing the real driving forces.
Another issue is the larger context in which the subject arises. Why has this topic become so terribly important? We cannot rule out the possibility that certain circles of power are deliberately distracting our attention from societal change. Let us not be concerned with the increasing curtailment of freedoms won in the last century, or with the ever increasing collection of data; let us go for each others’ throats over whether men dressed as women are allowed to put up a show in the classroom. Are there no more important things on our planet where a new war breaks out every week?
Fortunately, as you can see in the two-minute video below, the dilemma of the two genders has now been transcended in developed countries. The issue of the many newly discovered genders, together with the correction of ‘wrong’ bodies with scalpels and hormones, is beyond the scope of this article.
C is the reproductive loss of the individual, B is the gain of the beneficiary relative, r is the degree of relatedness between 0 and 1. A niece/nephew shares 25% their genes with their aunt/uncle. To compensate for the reproductive loss of the latter, a figure of 100% or more is needed.
One possible variant of a gene.